||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (June 2014)|
Giygas as he appears in EarthBound
|First game||Mother (1989)|
|Created by||Shigesato Itoi|
Giygas, known in Japan as Gyiyg (ギーグ Gīgu?), is a fictional ghost character in the EarthBound video game series by Nintendo, created by Shigesato Itoi. The character serves as the main antagonist of the series. Giygas's appearance in EarthBound garnered positive reception.
Concept and creation
Giygas was created by Shigesato Itoi, the creator of the EarthBound series in the original Mother. He went under the name of Giegue in the cancelled English localization. In an interview on his website, Itoi describes how his inspiration for the final battle with Giygas resulted from a traumatic childhood event. When Itoi was a young boy, he accidentally viewed the wrong movie at a theater, a Shintoho film entitled Kenpei to barabara shibijin. According to Itoi the film featured a murder scene near a river that Itoi mistook for a rape scene that traumatized Itoi so much that his parents began to worry about his well-being. Years later, Itoi integrated the experience into Giygas' dialogue for the final battle. Itoi described Giygas as something that people cannot make sense of, but also as a living being who deserves love. He compared this part of him to the breast of Hisako Tsukaba, the victim of the film. He described this scene as a combination of atrocity and eroticism, and that is what his lines are in the end, one of them being "it hurts...". While designing this battle, Itoi spoke all of the text out loud while another staff member, Matchan Miura, wrote it down. He spoke each hiragana character one by one, commenting that he felt the hiragana made it scarier. Itoi explained that the subtitle to the Japanese version, which exclaims that "Giygas strikes back", was inserted to instill that he did not die in Mother, as well as to show to the readers what to expect from the final boss. Music composer Hirokazu Tanaka (not related to the MLB pitcher) described Giygas as the "embodiment of evil". As a result, he composed the music in a certain way based on the player's proximity to him. For example, in battles where Ness and company encounters someone or something under Giygas' control, the music and sound effects reflect this. However, when Ness and company are in a peaceful area such as a Sanctuary, the music has a spiritual nuance.
Giygas first appears in the NES video game, Mother, referred to as Giegue in the cancelled English version. In Mother, Giygas was raised by Maria, a woman abducted along with her husband George by Giygas' alien race from Earth in the early 1900s. George studied the aliens' PSI powers without permission, and escaped back to Earth. Once he matured, Giygas was tasked by his people to make sure that PSI never spread onto Earth. However, Giygas did not want to betray those who raised him, particularly Maria. In the end, he forced himself to detach from Maria, and began preparations for the aliens' invasion. Eighty years later, strange things start happening on Earth. These events are eventually revealed to be the work of Giygas. Maria, now a Queen in a magical world called Magicant, explains everything to the protagonists of Mother after her memories are restored. When the protagonists encounter Giygas, he explains his motives to them while attacking them with his PSI power. Maria urges protagonist Ninten to sing, which weakens Giygas. Ninten, Ana, and Lloyd sing together, forcing Giygas to surrender and flee.
Giygas next appears in the Super NES sequel EarthBound. Giygas is an unseen villain for most of the story, although his evil possesses humans, animals, and objects who unknowingly do his bidding. According to a character from the future named Buzz Buzz, Giygas destroys the universe ten years in the future. One of his key minions is Porky Minch (incorrectly translated as Pokey), a former friend of protagonist Ness. At first, Dr. Andonuts (the father of playable character Jeff) believes that Giygas is residing deep within the Earth, and transports himself and the party there using a machine called the Phase Distorter. When they arrive, they find that Giygas is attacking from that exact location, but from innumerable years in the past. The only way the protagonists can get to Giygas' time period is to alter the Phase Distorter to transport them back in time. When the group finally reaches the now-unrecognizable Giygas, Porky appears in a spider-like armored mech and derides the protagonists' efforts. Giygas initially resembles Ness while in the device called the "Devil's Machine." Porky eventually turns the Devil's Machine off, thereby destroying Giygas' body and mind by releasing his infinite power, and also driving him mad. Porky refers to him as an "almighty idiot," calling him the "literal definition of evil." At this point, Giygas' words are nondescript and nonsensical. He becomes invulnerable to damage, while his attacks become incomprehensible, accompanied by the infamous line "You cannot grasp the true form of Giygas' attack!". Giygas is eventually destroyed by Paula, who prays to the protagonists' friends and family for them to lend their strength. Her praying eventually reaches the player, and the combined prayers do enough damage to Giygas, resulting in his destruction.
Since appearing in EarthBound, Giygas has received largely positive reception. 1UP.com staff listed the battle with Giygas as one of the 25 best boss battles, describing it as an "insane end to an insane game". They cited the pixelated imagery and screeching noises that came from Giygas, as well as the final portion of the battle, which requires the player's characters to pray for aide from their friends and family to defeat Giygas, including the player, effectively breaking the fourth wall of the game. In 2010, NGamer UK listed Giygas as one of the most iconic boss encounters in Nintendo history, stating that the defining moment came from the second phase, where Giygas becomes the "swirling, undulating background", as well as citing the method of defeating Giygas as another defining moment. GamesRadar praised Giygas's role as an antagonist, putting him in their 2013 list of the best villains in video game history at number 47. GamesRadar staff also commented that he was "one of the creepiest final battles in RPG history" and that he was "markedly more imposing" than Kefka from the Super NES role-playing game Final Fantasy VI. 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish used the final battle against Giygas as an example of how EarthBound inverts gamers' expectations, due to the fact that the player characters employ prayer as opposed to their strongest attacks. UGO Networks editor Chris Littler listed Giygas as one of the hardest boss battles. Complex listed Giygas as the thirteenth "hardest video game boss" in 2011. 1UP.com's Mike Zeller used Giygas as an example of an alien type called "the destroyer" (generally an alien of incredible power). Brittany Vincent felt that Giygas was a huge contrast to the more lighthearted tone of the rest of EarthBound's story.
GameSpot featured him in a user-voted poll of the greatest villains in video games. However, he lost to Darth Malak from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, with 13,867 votes in his favour compared to 55,764 for Malak. GameSpot described Giygas as "everything sinister that ever was, is, or will be all rolled up into a single, screaming, disturbing red blob." Destructoid editor Jonathan Holmes described Giygas as "one of the most abstract, unhappy, all powerful villains to ever appear in a Nintendo game." ScrewAttack included it on the top of their list of the scariest retro enemies, and UGO Networks listed Giygas in their list of scariest characters in video game history at 14. IGN included the battle with Giygas in their list of the "10 cinematic moments in games."
Nadia Oxford listed Giygas as one of the most memorable moments in EarthBound. She suggested that even people who have not played EarthBound understand its significance. She claimed that Itoi took inspiration from Stephen King novels, including It (a novel about an alien who takes the form of peoples' fears and targets a group of kids). She suggested that Giygas was based on this alien, due to a similarly "borderline indescribable" form and the fact that they both succumbed to "childlike qualities such as faith, friendship, and love." She and David Oxford compared Giygas' appearance in Mother to Mewtwo. They noted that the final battle in Mother with Giygas deviates from traditional final boss battles; they cited reasons such as how Giygas was unlike other alien enemies in video games whose goals were "mindless destruction and sautéing humans." The other reason was the use of a "pulsating, shrill background noise" and the sound of a lullaby, which deviate from other games, which often featured "heart-pumping boss ballads." They described his EarthBound incarnation as an "undulating pocket dimension where nothing gets in or out--except for the prayers of Ness's friends and family." They compared this battle to the one in Mother due to both using "love and prayer" to succeed. They felt that this battle was in contrast to other battles in games at the time; where other battles were about "taking down the final threat with legendary weapons, spells, and reflexes that had been honed to a razor-edge over the course of the adventure", EarthBound's final battle was about "digging your heels into the ground and summoning the stamina necessary to endure the alien's attacks." They suggested that Giygas' degraded form was possibly the result of Giygas' longing for Maria's love.
An urban legend exists that suggests that the final battle with Giygas in EarthBound was an "alien abortion" intended as a twisted anti-abortion message. Such a conclusion is made by the battle's setting (which looks like a cervix) and Giygas' overall appearance (which looks like a demonic fetus). GamesRadar listed it as the third most creepy gaming urban legend. Marcus Lindblom (a member of the English localization team) acknowledged the urban legend when asked by Jason Schreier about it and stated, "I think that this is a great instance of people reading in stuff that was probably never really intended. There’s certainly nothing wrong with people doing that kind of thing. In reality, as far as we were ever concerned, nothing like that ever came up." Shigesato Itoi has denied the rumors as well, saying that Giygas' look was based off a creepy image he saw after he walked into a cinema other than the one he intended to go into.
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